Rail passengers in Gippsland are one step closer to faster and more frequent services, with work ramping up on the construction of the new Avon River Bridge.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack today announced the first 18 bridge beams have been lifted into place to form part of the structure for the 504-metre-long bridge.

“This is an important milestone for this project and for the people of Gippsland,” Mr McCormack said.
“With the first batch of beams now installed, construction crews have started pouring the concrete deck slab and attaching walls to form the sides of the bridge.

“The new bridge is just part of the vital work we are doing on the Gippsland Line Upgrade to not only give Gippslanders the train services they deserve, but to create hundreds of local jobs over the life of the project.”

Victorian Minister for Transport Infrastructure Jacinta Allan said the new bridge would make train travel in the region more frequent and more reliable.

“This new bridge will ensure there are fewer areas of restricted speed limits along the line, giving the people of Gippsland a more reliable connection to jobs throughout the region,” Ms Allan said.

“Importantly this project is also supporting the local economy in and around Stratford and is providing jobs for Victorians throughout the supply chain.

“The new bridge will allow trains to travel at up to 90km/h in this section – a vast improvement on the 10km/h speed limit in place on the existing bridge.”

Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester said the vital rail upgrades would deliver significant transport and employment benefits for the region.

“The new Avon River Bridge and the broader Gippsland Line Upgrade is not just welcome news for the many rail passengers who use the regional network every year — it is important for the entire community,” Mr Chester said.

“The project will deliver 400 new jobs through construction and operation, creating opportunities for regional and local businesses, including direct and indirect supplies, supporting services and additional customers for retailers near the work site at Stratford. This is great for our region as we manage through challenges towards economic recovery.

“Every person employed through the life of the project, or connected to employment opportunities in the region not only provides critical stimulus to our local economy when it is needed most, but will lay the tracks for regional growth and development well into the future.”

Victorian Member for Eastern Victoria Jane Garrett said the project would make it easier for Gippsland residents to access their workplaces and key services.

“This fantastic upgrade will mean people can access key services like hospitals more easily and more often, and will make commuting to work much more reliable.”

“Construction has been able to continue with strict health requirements in place. We thank workers for staying safe and continuing their work on this project during such a challenging period.”

The Gippsland Line Upgrade is jointly funded by the Australian Government and the Victorian Government as part of the $2 billion Regional Rail Revival – which is upgrading every regional train line in Victoria and creating more than 1,000 jobs.

Acclaimed local artist Ray Thomas has been selected to paint a mural on the new bridge as part of the project’s improvements to Apex Park.

An award-winning artist with more than three decades of experience, Ray’s works are inspired by the stories and designs of his Gunaikurnai people, as well as the Gippsland country they call home.

He was selected from a shortlist of Gippsland-based artists and will paint a mural featuring the Avon River as a theme, as selected by Stratford locals earlier this year.